Children who are being adopted or children whose parents are engaged in child custody litigation are often appointed a Guardian ad Litem to protect their interests. This person can be an Attorney Guardian ad Litem or a Lay Guardian ad Litem who has completed annual training required by state law. As a Guardian ad Litem either appointed by the Court or chosen by the consent of the parties, my responsibilities and conduct are governed by Title 63, Chapter 3, Article 7 of the South Carolina Code of Law.
As your child’s Guardian ad Litem, the court generally orders me to complete the following responsibilities and duties:
- Conduct an independent, balanced and impartial investigation
- Advocate for the child(ren)’s best interest
- Attend all court hearings related to custody and visitation issues
- Maintain a complete case file with notes
- Present to the court a comprehensive report regarding the best interest of the child(ren)
While conducting my independent investigation, I will determine the facts relevant to your child(ren) and your family’s situation. I will access the child’s school records and medical records. I will meet with your child(ren) at least once. I will visit your home and interview you and any others with knowledge relevant to the case. I may make unannounced home visits. I may ask for your social security number and date of birth to order a criminal history check and/or request login information for your social media accounts. Depending on your child(ren)’s age and mental maturity, I may consider your child(ren)’s wishes.
In an effort to advocate for your child(ren)’s best interest, I may make clear and specific suggestions for evaluation, services, and treatment for your family or your child(ren). These suggestions may be accepted by the consent of the parties or upon proper approval of the court.
A comprehensive final report shall be presented to the court 20 days before the merits hearing. My report cannot contain recommendations concerning which party shall be awarded custody. I do not determine custody. The parties may determine custody by consent or the judge will determine custody by order.
If you are a parent of child with whom I serve, there is information I need in advance of me commencing my investigation. The forms should be completed immediately, scanned, and emailed unless other arrangements are made with me in advance. The forms can be obtained on the resources page.